Going There

The back and forth with the wonderful girl in the So Yeah comments got me thinking about my own context, and whether my self assessment is accurate, or if I'm lying to myself about my problem, the recovery, or both.

NIH on Recovery from Alcoholism.

More than one-third (35.9 percent) of U.S. adults with alcohol dependence (alcoholism) that began more than one year ago are now in full recovery, according to an article in the current issue of Addiction. The fully recovered individuals show symptoms of neither alcohol dependence nor alcohol abuse and either abstain or drink at levels below those known to increase relapse risk. They include roughly equal proportions of abstainers (18.2 percent) and low-risk drinkers (17.7 percent). The analysis is based on data from the 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), a project of the National Institutes of Health's National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

One-quarter (25.0 percent) of individuals with alcohol dependence that began more than one year ago now are dependent, 27.3 percent are in partial remission (that is, exhibit some symptoms of alcohol dependence or alcohol abuse), and 11.8 percent are asymptomatic risk drinkers with no symptoms but whose consumption increases their chances of relapse (for men, more than 14 drinks per week or more than four drinks on any day; for women, more than 7 drinks per week or more than three drinks on any day).

The NIH survey gives me something to think very long and hard about. It is by no means a get out of jail free card (or a you're right and she's wrong card).  My current behavior places me in the at risk category.  While 14 drinks a week is much more than I will currently imbibe, the weekly movie night is typically more than 4 drinks.  I do need to cut back even further to get myself out of this category (or maybe return to complete abstention, but dreck like Left Behind is much more fun to watch with a warm glow).

Now on to cravings.   They are still there, and much worse during stressful situations.  But cravings, however acute are just one factor in a mix of emotional, environmental, social and other factors that contribute to behavior in a given situation.

I'm WEIRD, as are the participants of the survey, so the station in life we occupy is probably more conducive (less financial pressure, no experiences of averse racial bias, etc) to more positive outcome, as opposed to total relapse.

What I am not saying is that I'm cured.  I am not making light of the suffering of others; I'm sticking to my own situation.   I recognize places where certain ascribed statuses have given me an advantage, and I don't try an minimize those (namely, my WEIRD-ness).

So it's both, I guess.

EDIT: This episode of Radiolab came up during my drive to my parent's house a couple of days ago.  It's interesting how addiction came to be viewed as primarily a moral, rather than medical, issue, and how that is starting to change.  

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